To the respite of the thousands of Indians stranded overseas by the coronavirus lockdown, India has started the ‘Vande Bharath’ (hail India) mission and under the scheme about 200,000 Indians will be brought back.
Details issued by the government said each flight would carry 200 to 250 passengers. Officials said that the elderly, pregnant women, those requiring medical attention and those who are “stranded in difficult situations” will get first preference to board the flights.
Nearly 15,000 Indians are expected to return on special Air India flights from 12 countries over the next week. The Indian Navy Ships are also assisting in the process and the naval fleet of warships is also being used to evacuate citizens – two ships are currently en route to Male to evacuate 1,000 Indians stuck in port in the Maldivian capital.
Eventually, Air India, the country’s national airline, will carry out the mission and fly planes to the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Qatar and Malaysia, among other countries.
All the passengers returning from abroad will have to pay their own fares and will have to compulsorily quarantine themselves for 14 days on arrival in quarantine facilities.
All international travel was suspended by the Indian government in March before it went into lockdown to curb Covid-19 infections.